Region 10 News Release 10-715-SEA (10-164)
June 1, 2010
Contact: Michael Shimizu
US Bank in Seattle ordered to pay back wages, reinstate former manager
terminated in violation of Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower provisions
SEATTLE - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered U.S. Bank in Seattle to reinstate a former bank manager who was fired in retaliation for filing an internal report alleging securities and bank fraud by company employees.
OSHA found that the bank fired the individual in violation of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
"Sarbanes-Oxley provides protection to workers who report alleged violations of mail, wire, bank or securities fraud; violations of rules or regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission; or federal laws relating to fraud against shareholders," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Terrill in Seattle.
Terrill emphasized that OSHA issues findings on alleged violations of the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. It does not determine whether the alleged fraud actually occurred.
The former bank manager filed a report in August 2007 claiming that income amounts on loan applications were being altered by bank employees, loans were not being paid off when refinanced, and checking accounts and credit cards were being opened for customers who did not request such accounts. OSHA's investigation revealed that the reasons offered by U.S. Bank for the termination of the complainant were pretextual and allegations of fraud were a contributing factor in the action against the employee.
In addition to the preliminary reinstatement, OSHA is ordering U.S. Bank to expunge employment records of the termination, to post an OSHA fact sheet and notice to employees, and to provide training for its employees at its Renton, Wash., branch about the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. OSHA is also ordering the payment of back wages to the complainant. OSHA's findings and order become the final order of the secretary of labor unless they are appealed within 30 days.
"This case clearly shows the Labor Department's commitment to ensuring that individuals are provided the protections and relief afforded by the law, and sends a strong message that retaliatory actions will not be tolerated," Terrill said.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of 17 laws protecting employees who report violations of various securities, trucking, airline, nuclear power, pipeline, environmental, railroad, public transportation, workplace safety and health, and consumer product safety laws. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available online at http://www.whistleblowers.gov/index.html.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit http://www.dol.gov/compliance.